3 Steps For Getting A Nursing License In Another State

Though it may seem daunting on the surface, getting a nursing license in another state is actually quite simple! Let’s talk about how to get this done.

How to Apply for a Nursing License in Another State

If you just finished your schooling and are ready to apply for your first license, there are three main steps you will take.

Let’s dive right in:

  1. Visit the state board of nursing’s (BON) website and submit your application for licensure so you can become eligible to take the state NCLEX Examination.
  2. Register for the NCLEX with Pearson VUE online or by phone at 1.866.496.2539.
  3. Once you pass the test, you will be a licensed nurse! If you did not pass, you can retake the exam.

If you have already taken and passed the NCLEX exam and are simply applying for a license in a new state, you can visit the BON website of the state to which you are transferring because they will clearly outline the specific necessary requirements.

In most cases, it’s as easy as applying and paying your fees, and it’s often done through the Nursys website.

If your new state isn’t available on the Nursys website, you will need to mail the required documents instead, and then things take a bit longer.

Because of this, we always recommend starting the application process as soon as possible.

Compact Nursing License States

You may live in one of many compact nursing license states making the process easier. These states require that you hold a single compact license for nursing and it transfers between states.

This means you can work in a number of states without having to go through the process of obtaining a new license each time!

The following states are compact nursing license states as of 2018:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

To get a compact nursing license, all you need to do is obtain a license in any compact state, at any time, and you will have a “nursing compact license” that is valid in every state listed above.

Keep in mind that if you are permanently moving from one compact state to another, you will still need to transfer your license. This is required as you must show your new home as your primary residence. If you are simply traveling to the state for an assignment, this is not necessary.

How to Transfer RN License to Another State

In some cases, you can transfer your license instead of obtaining an entirely new one.

Of course, if you let your license lapse at any time, you won’t be able to transfer it without retaking the exam, or possibly a refresher course, depending on how long it has been inactive.

One valuable tip for getting a nursing license in another state is to seek guidance from your recruitment agency; they are here to help! Travel nurses are most often the ones applying for a nursing license in another state. If you have a dedicated recruiter helping you obtain nursing assignments, that person is ready and willing to assist you with licensing requirements to ensure you can transition into your new role seamlessly.

Let’s break down the three scenarios in which you’d need to transfer your license:

Transfer RN License from Compact State to Compact State

  • We recommend applying for licensure at least two months in advance of your move. Be sure to pay any related fees on time to ensure no hiccups in the process.
  • Complete your primary state of residency declaration, and notify the board of nursing in your former residency that you have moved.
  • Remember, you can practice on your former license for up to 30 or 90 days (depending on your new state’s rules).
  • Once everything goes through, you will be issued a new compact state license and your former license will be inactivated.

Transfer RN License from Non-Compact to Compact State

  • You do not need to technically transfer your license when moving to a compact state. Specifically, your original license (issued by the non-compact state) will remain active if you continue to maintain it!
  • Remember that should you choose to keep your original state’s license, you will have to maintain continuing education hours, practice within the laws of that state, and renew it by the deadline. We recommend using a service to help stay up to date such as Nursys.
  • As far as obtaining the compact state license, simply apply for licensure by endorsement in the new state of residency using the three steps outlined in the first section of this article.

Transfer RN License from Compact to Non-Compact State

  • In this case, begin by applying for licensure in your new non-compact state of residency. Upon approval of your application, your compact license will be changed to a single-state license. Of course, it will only be valid in your new state.
  • Once again we remind you to notify the board of your former state so they may inactivate your license from their board.

Getting A Nursing License in Another State Is Simple

Now you know getting a nursing license in another state is a simple process! As long as you begin it as early as possible to avoid any lapses or rush fees, you’ll be golden.

Need help with this process? Let us know.


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